Deborah Penny - Transitioning the Army through my Transition

  • Portrait of the speaker in military uniform

In celebration of Transgender Awareness Week (November 13 to November 19), we have invited Deborah Penny to share her lived experiences as a transgender soldier in the British Army. Transgender Awareness Week is a one-week celebration leading up to the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), which memorialises victims of transphobic violence. TDoR occurs annually on November 20, when transgender advocates raise awareness of the transgender community through education and advocacy activities


Warrant Officer 2 (WO2) Penny was born 1966 in Karachi West, Pakistan. She joined the army in September 1982 and joined her first unit (19 Fd Regt RA) in Germany in January 1984. In 1986 she returned to UK and completed the Commando Course and subsequently served with 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery until 1999.

In 1999 she transferred to the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC) as an Ammunition Technician and qualified as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Operator. On promotion to Sgt in she was assigned to 621 EOD Squadron RLC.

She has also served as an instructor at the Amy School of Ammunition, Kineton and as the Ammunition Warrant Officer for Bovington and Lulworth.

Throughout her career, WO2 Penny has deployed on overseas exercises to the United States of America, Sardinia, Norway, Belize and Brunei and she has undertaken operational deployments to Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Iraq and Afghanistan.

WO2 Penny came out as Transgender to the Army and her family and friends in 2004. After two years, she was able to start the journey to transition which took until 2010. In 2012 she deployed to Afghanistan (Operation HERRICK) on her first of two tours and was the first Transgender soldier in an operational theatre. Following this, she used her experiences to provide advice to the Chain of Command on Transgender issues and set up a network for women and LGBTQ+ personnel at Bovington Garrison.

WO2 Penny finished her regular career in 2018 and joined the Reserves. Since then she has been involved in Operations YELLOW HAMMER, REDFOLD and RESCRIPT.

She currently holds the post as the Warrant Officer Diversity Engagement Team as part of the Army Engagement Group.


  • Date: Thursday 17 November 2022
  • Time: 5–7pm
  • Venue: Cargill Lecture Theatre
  • Drinks Reception: 6:30pm
  • Book tickets here

WO2 Penny lives with her long-term partner, Annie. She is also a motorbike enthusiast and she, with a small group of ladies, has just formed a lesbian motorcycle club. She is also part of the English Civil War Society with her partner and is a huge science fiction nut, to the extent that she has dressed up for charity in both a chaos space marine costume and a stormtrooper from Star Wars.

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